Turbulence is one of the most important unsolved problems in classical physics. It is vital to the action of many laboratory and astrophysical plasmas; causing diminished confinement time in fusion devices, mediating angular momentum transfer in planet formation, and driving dynamos to magnetise the universe. Turbulence is ubiquitous, occuring in stars, stellar winds, accretion disks and the intergalactic medium. Hence, understanding it is essential to interpreting a large body of plasma observations.
The solar wind and near-Earth environment are the only in-situ accessible high Reynolds number plasmas, and thus provide a unique laboratory for turbulence research. For neutral fluids like fast flowing water, turbulent dissipation is mediated by microscopic collisions that manifest macroscopically as viscosity. However, many astrophysical plasmas including the solar wind are collisionless. My research is focused on understanding how, in the absence of collisional viscosity, plasma turbulence dissipates at small scales. A promising candidate is non-uniform dissipation in regions of strong magnetic shear. Here magnetic reconnection can be triggered, which is the dominant mechanism in the universe for magnetic energy dissipation.
CFSA; Department of Physics
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL
+44 (0)24 761 51003